Destination Inspiration: Jamaica
Jamaica expert, CAA Travel Professional Samantha Valcin, gives us her top tips
Known for its endless stretches of white sand beach, turquoise blue waters, dramatic rocky bluffs and breathtaking panoramas, Jamaica is a Caribbean, tropical paradise. Beyond the picturesque landscape, many visit the island to enjoy the richly-spiced foods, bohemian essence and free-spirited vibe.
CAA Travel Professional Samantha Valcin knows Jamaica. From destination weddings to spring break adventures, she has helped her clients plan countless trips to the tropical island. Through her own adventures in the country, she’s become an expert on Jamaica's hot spots and hidden gems.
“My favourite destination on the island is the coastal town of Negril,” says Valcin. “The beaches along the seven-mile stretch are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Stroll along the water and drop into the beach bars you pass. Rick’s Café is a favourite. And make sure to take a catamaran out at sundown for the most spectacular views!”
Looking for an off the beaten path adventure? Valcin recommends visiting the Blue Mountains where you can meet coffee farmers, swim in waterfalls and ride bikes through the mountainous trails. Her other favourites include Dunn’s River Falls and Montego Bay.
“Visit Montego Bay for the most relaxing and tranquil river rafting down the Martha Brae,” she says. “Be sure to check out the famous Dunn’s River Falls, and don’t miss bobsledding over Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios for incredible rainforest views.”
For a truly authentic Jamaican experience Valcin recommends signing up for the ‘Meet the People Program’ through the Jamaican Tourism Board. You’ll be matched with locals with similar interests to your own who will show you around the island. They may take you to a reggae concert, a local festival, cook you a meal or bring you on a sightseeing adventure.
While Jamaica has garnered a reputation for pushy salespeople, Valcin advises not to be put off or nervous. At the end of the day, they’re just trying to make a living. She advises that if you don’t want to buy what they’re selling, you can politely decline. When treated with respect, they’ll simply smile and move on to the next person.
Jamaica also has something to offer newly-engaged couples planning to go away for their wedding.
“This is the easiest island on which to hold your destination wedding.“ says Valcin. The entire process is a breeze and there are no conversion documents. I’ve both organized and attended weddings there. All were fabulous, laid-back and beautiful; the true spirit of Jamaica!”
And Valcin’s most important tip of all:
“Just let loose while you’re there,” she says. “Jamaicans are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Immerse yourself in the culture, foods, sights and smells.”